“And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.” ~ Revelation 5:8
We need Jesus to reveal the truth. This is why the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders have “golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.” They are praying earnestly for Jesus to “remove the seals and open understanding in the book.”
Here they use the words “golden vials full of odors” which in type represent the “censers” of the Old Testament temple worship that were filled with incense to burn before the Lord as a “sweet smelling savor.”
“And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not” ~ Leviticus 16:12-13
Again, in Revelation 5:8 they are described as “golden vials” because when our prayers come from the desire of a pure heart of gold, they come up as incense smelling sweet before the Lord, and so he enjoys them and remembers them, and answers them.
Today, in the same way, there is a great need for true Christians to gather together in prayer! We need Jesus to reveal the truth to lost and deceived souls!
Prayers from an impure heart, with selfish purposes that are not fully submitted to the will of God, come up stinking before the Lord, and he rightfully despises them.
“Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil” ~ Isaiah 1:13-16
“And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savor of your sweet odors.” ~ Leviticus 26:31
Unified prayer and incense were an important part of the worship ordained by God, from Old Testament times through to New Testament times. In the Old Testament, prayer and incense were offered as part of the daily morning and evening sacrifice.
“And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.” ~ Exodus 30:7-8
“But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him; and the priests, which minister unto the LORD, are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites wait upon their business: And they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also set they in order upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but ye have forsaken him.” ~ 2 Chronicles 13:10-11
“Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” ~ Psalms 141:2
In the New Testament, when they gathered together as one, their prayers especially went up as a sweet smelling incense to be heard and mightily answered by Almighty God!
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:1-4)
Do we have a heart of gold today? Can or prayers come up as sweet incense to God? Or does our heart contain some of the stink of wicked desires and attitudes? Does God delight in our offering?